THE LIMITATIONS IN APPROACHING PLATO`S CONTRIBUTION

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THE LIMITATIONS IN APPROACHING PLATO’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE
CONCEPTION OF SOUL
Any attempt of approaching Dodds’ provocative questioning of the traditional view
of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism cannot be successful unless one gives a full
account of Plato’s theory of the soul, its parts, its relation to polis and the individual as
well as to the psychological faculties and the use of reason the latter make for their own
purpose. The approach is not at all an easy matter for the “direct” examination of the texts
of the dialogues presupposes an interplay of data outside the texts, such as, historical,
biographical, literary, religious, philosophical, etc. As Joseph Cummins points out (Skepsis
XVI/i-ii, 2005, p. 82), “Plato’s works presume a highly literate audience in a specific
cultural context”, but we stand at disadvantage because of our temporal and cultural
distance. Besides, there is an intentional internal development and transformation of his
theory of soul ranging from the dualistic and tripartite composition to the harmony, when
the lower faculties, spiritedness (thumos) and desire (or appetite) follow the commands of
reason. My purpose in this paper is to examine some important textual and contextual
issues of Plato’s theory of the soul which, I hope, will shed some more light to Dodd’s
proposed thesis.
Dr. Leonidas C. BARGELIOTES
Emeritus Professor at the University of Athens
9, Aristotle St. 151 24 Amaroussion-Greece
Tel. & Fax: (210) 80 29 313 /E-mail: [email protected]
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